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Interview: Mario Götze

‘I just want to play my football’

The first half on Saturday was problematic for Bayern. Visiting Mainz strung five men across the back, defended as a unit, and closed down the space. The home team probed for gaps, but found none. The situation turned from difficult to critical when Mainz not undeservedly took the lead just before the interval. But Pep Guardiola had a weapon to hand: he brought on Mario Götze and the course of the match utterly changed. FCB scored a quickfire double in the space of just 113 seconds and went on to win 4-1.

Naturally, Götze was not single-handedly responsible for the thrilling fightback, but he made a major contribution to the champions running out deserved winners. The marquee summer signing has had a tough few months with injury and lacks playing time, but he brought new ideas and vision to the Bayern attack after coming on, and was directly involved in three of the four goals. “I’m naturally pleased,” the player said when he spoke exclusively to

Interview: Mario Götze Mario, congratulations on the victory and a great display. It goes down as a very good Saturday afternoon for you personally.
Mario Götze: I’m naturally pleased. I just wanted to help the team. We were in a complicated position: Mainz basically stopped us making chances, and then we fell behind. We came up with much better solutions in the second half, we found gaps and we were more determined in front of goal.

You started as playmaker, and ended up as a central striker. Where do you see yourself over the long term?
The only thing that matters to me is to get back to playing for an extended period of time. The playing time I had with Germany in Sweden and now for Bayern against Mainz has done me the world of good. The more I play, the fitter I’ll become. I’m not bothered about my position. I can play as a wide midfielder, an inside forward, a playmaker, or up front. Fortunately, I’m very versatile.

Are you settled at your new club now?
Everything’s basically great: my brother’s here, my family are very close by, and it’s a great city. We have a fantastic team here at Bayern, and we’ve set our sights high this season. The only factor that’s not made it entirely easy for me was the injuries and the long period in sports rehab.

In what sense?
I was carrying an injury when I joined and couldn’t immediately start squad training, let alone play. My plan was to prove myself straight away. I wanted to help us win matches, and I wanted to score goals, but it wasn’t to be. It was hard, but I always stayed positive in the certainty I’d come away from the situation even stronger. I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person. Now, I just want to play my football and stay fit.

Let’s just rewind for a moment: can you now reflect on the tackle by Chelsea’s Ramires in the Super Cup in Prague, in which you damaged ankle ligaments, and consider that it could’ve been worse?
When you see the TV footage, you certainly think that. Funnily enough, I didn’t really notice anything during the game. I didn’t even have to be substituted. The diagnosis followed the next day. Obviously, it was really, really bad timing for me, because I’d basically just got over my previous injury. but it’s all in the past and I’m looking to the future now.

Have the injuries made it more difficult to settle into the team?
No, settling in has actually been very easy. I already knew a lot of the players from the national team, but the others are great guys as well, so it was a really good fit from the very first day. As you’d expect, I spend most of my time with the players about my age, such as David, Jérôme, Shaq or Toni. But we don’t really get up to much together in our free time - after all, we see each other every day anyway (laughs).

In your first interview, you said Pep Guardiola was one of the reasons for joining Bayern. Have your expectations been met?
Definitely. I wanted a new challenge, to learn new things and a new philosophy, and it’s been very exciting right from the start. It’s obvious Pep Guardiola has unbelievable quality. He’ll help the team and every individual develop. Our aim is to play even better than last year’s Bayern.

Along the lines of the performances in Manchester or Leverkusen?
It was certainly impressive, but I wasn’t surprised, because I see the quality we have here every single day in training. It’s good to see us reproducing our form out on the pitch, because it means the fans get to enjoy it too.

Turning to your private life, you come from the Allgäu region, but you don’t have the notoriously strong local accent...
I’m afraid I may have lost it. You hear it when I’m with my parents, and even more so when I’m with my grandparents. Fortunately, I still understand everything when I’m at home with my family for Christmas.

You were born in Memmingen, you lived in Dortmund, and now in Munich. Do you like it here?
The quality of life here is terrific. I feel very much at home, although I’ve not had time to explore properly yet. But it’ll come.

Do you have a favourite place?
When I was still in a hotel last summer, I often went to the English Garden, which is lovely.

Do you get recognised and stopped on the streets much in Munich?
It’s not a problem. Sometimes I wear a hat or I move a bit quicker than I normally would (laughs). But being talked to every now and then is completely normal and totally okay by me.

You live with your brother. How’s that working out?
Very well. We get on really well. Once we knew we were both coming to Munich, the obvious solution was to live together, although we don’t see each other very often. I think I was in the apartment for two days in the last three weeks. When we are together, we do a bit of cooking. And I go and watch him play for Unterhaching every now and then, provided I have the time.